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What is PAL?

The Columbia Police Department has welcomed a new PAL – the Columbia Police Athletic/Activities League.

PAL, headed by Executive Director Lt Vandell McCary Sr. is the latest effort by the department to reach out to the citizens of our community. The national organization focuses on building a partnership among youth, police and citizens with recreational, athletic and educational programs. These will encourage and develop good citizenship and improve the quality of life for our youth. The Columbia organization is the first chartered member of the National PAL in Richland County.

Mission and Objectives

Columbia PAL mentoring programs make up the Learning for Life career education programs for youth ages 5 to 18. The purpose of the program is to provide young people experience and knowledge to combat problems that confront them daily. This is done through five areas of emphasis:

  • Career opportunities – Develop potential contacts that may broaden job options and boost self-confidence and experience success at school/work

  • Life skills – Build physical and mental fitness and experience positive social interaction

  • Service learning – Develop skills to help others

  • Character education – Learn to make ethical choices and fulfill one’s responsibility to society

  • Leadership experience – Instill leadership skills to become a productive and responsible adult

PAL is based on promoting trust and understanding between youth and police. Studies show that if a youngster is taught to respect police, he or she will likely come to respect the laws that police enforce. PAL aims to bring youth under the direct supervision and constructive influences of responsible law enforcement officers and concerned citizens throughout the community.

History of PAL

A New York City police lieutenant established the National PAL in the early 1900s, according to the national PAL Web site. Lt. Ed W. Flynn was tired of a neighborhood gang causing trouble and decided to find out the cause of the behavior. The gang’s leader complained about youngsters not having a place to play or participate in sports. That’s when Flynn decided to help the children form a team. He, the other officers and neighborhood merchants pooled their money to buy uniforms and equipment. Flynn also found a playground where the team could play as officers cheered them on.
It wasn’t long before more teams formed. PAL continued to grow, dedicating its first indoor youth center in 1937. It became incorporated under New York state laws four years later.

PAL today

More than 500 PAL chapters have been formed in law enforcement agencies in hundreds of cities throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands. These chapters serve more than 3 million youth, ages 5 to 18.
The chapters are varied in the way they operate. Some have sports programs only while others have a few individual sports. Crafts and educational programs are included in other programs.

PAL’s purpose remains the same: Reach out to neighborhood youths who don’t have recreational affiliations, and who are at risk for becoming bored, apathetic and lonely. PAL wants to connect with the youths before they get into trouble.
To learn more about PAL, visit the Web site

Recent PAL Activities

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